Sunday, September 12, 2010

"The American"


What? You're not getting Resident Evil: Afterlife. M'kay? I could honestly care less about the Resident Evil franchise; I've never played the games, I have no interest in playing the games, and I have even less interest in the films. So no 3D complaining for you.

Instead, I think I'll take a journey to last week to think of stuff. Because whereas last week's movie was silly, today's movie is much more serious...

The American

Jack (George Clooney) is an assassin living in Italy. He's hired to make a rifle, he falls in love with a prostitute, and he generally lives his life in constant suspicion of everyone around him. And so, he lives his life.

... Wow, that was a really short summary.

And for good reason. Not a whole lot happens in this movie; it's very slow-burning, and almost nothing really happens. He falls in love, he makes a rifle...

But somehow, that doesn't really matter all that much. It's more of a character study of Jack and his view of the world around him. And to this end, the camera rarely ever takes its eyes off of Clooney. We see him going about with some strange kind of disconnection from the rest of the world. We never learn about his past. We never learn why he's running from the Swedes, for instance. We also never learn where he's from, other than the fact that he's American and in Italy.

But somehow, it all seems to show a strange separation from the world. The minimalist approach to story-telling gives an impression of the character that is extremely difficult to forget. Clooney's restrained performance also helps when he finally does seem to find some connection to the world around him. And everything about the movie seems to move towards Clooney's character; the only sounds we get for long stretches of time are the silence between pieces of dialogue, and if there's any sound it's chiefly underplayed. And somehow, there's a strange kind of tension from the small little plot details that can be picked up.

The only problem is a lot of people will percieve it as being a very slow movie. What I say? I think the fact that it's very slow is part of the point. It helps build tension, and lets us see into the psyche of the characters thanks to this.

And on the merits of film-making used to depict a character, The American mostly succeeds. Sure, it's a little slow and it's not to everyone's tastes, but it's a model study on how one can use the medium of film to examine a single character. It's very difficult to describe exactly what made the movie work, as it was all very vague. But somehow, the subtext makes everything obvious.

In fact, here's a thought: I actually wrote this review a day after I saw the film. I actually needed to digest some of it, as I wasn't sure whether it was good or bad. And after reflecting on it for a while, I've decided that yes, it's good.


A must-see movie of the year.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

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